In the course of human history no other construct has been as powerful a tool for prosperity and economic mobility as the free market of goods and services. Historically speaking, it has taken many decades and much bloodshed to progress to the relative freedom that both producers of capitol and consumers of goods now enjoy. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, the majority of the population have been peasants, or in the worst case, serfs, with their entire lives tied to the land, which they worked for their liege-lords, the landed nobility
As feudalism eventually gave way to constitutional monarchy and then to the democratic-republic, the social contract between noble and vassal evolved into an actual contract between employer and employee. This shift from agrarian trading blocks into mercantilism began a chain of events that eventually resulted in the seemingly shifting byzantine morass of fiat currency and trust-based value that we know today.
Whatever the detractors on the left may decry as “income inequality” or “rampant greed” capitalism remains the most effective vehicle for engineering scientific progress at the national level and quality of life at the personal level. This is due to the innate merit-based structure of the free market. If a product or service is inefficient, or too costly, it will quickly be replaced with a better, cheaper version created by a competitor. This economic Darwinism ensures a level playing field for all participants, particularly new producers that previously stood at a disadvantage to established producers.
Consumers vote with their wallets; purchasing the goods of those commercial entities they wish to support and abstaining from those they do not. In this way, democracy becomes self-perpetuating, percolating through the private sector in an election of market share, where the constituents are consumers and the candidates are corporations. After the west shifted to a free trade model the average quality of life has increased dramatically, including the creation of a substantial middle class that previously was unsustainable
This new middle class is integral to the overarching ethos that capitalism brings, a general spirit of innovation and competition that encourages ever improving technology and devices. The marvels we enjoy today such as our smart phones would have been incapable of conception in both form and price without the advent of capitalism.
Every year the most determined in the lower class climb the ladder of the free market to reach the middle and upper classes by grasping, rung by rung, ever upwards in a quest for economic prosperity.
This can be contrasted most harshly by the effect of radical protectionism and the abolition of private property in the former soviet and soviet satellite nations in the 20th century. Communism falsely claims that we are all equal, and that to be different is to be condemned, the quashing of the very human spirit. Ultimately, these two economic systems come down to the triumph of the individual on one hand, or the alluring conformity of collectivism on the other. In retrospect we know that communism and central planning has led to the intended and accidental deaths of untold millions, crushed under the oppression of the iron curtain. Like the feudal serfs of old, toiling dully for Bolshevik overlords in a grey, monotone existence.
Capitalism, like Democracy itself is not a perfect system; there are flaws with any system that requires an informed electorate. There is also the matter of oversight to ensure fair completion, which must be balanced to avoid over-regulation and strangulation of growth. The fundamental truth to the matter is that capitalism ensures and reinforces the property rights and level of market agency that allow for the American ideal of prosperity.